In response to the powerful #MeToo campaign on social media, in which hundreds of thousands of people — mostly women — are sharing their personal accounts of sexual harassment and assault, supporters are reaching out to victims with another powerful hashtag: #IBelieveYou.
“It can be extremely difficult for survivors to come forward and share their story. They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won’t be believed, or worried they’ll be blamed,” the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), shared on its website.
The words “I believe you” recognize how trying it can be for victims to come forward.
In fact, according to RAINN, only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police, meaning approximately two out of three go unreported.
A 2013 RAINN report found, due partially to low reporting rates, only 9 percent of all rapists get prosecuted and only 3 percent spend a day in prison. The other 97 percent walk free.
Between 2005-2010, of the victims who didn’t report assaults to police, 20 percent feared retaliation, 13 percent didn’t have faith the police would help and 13 percent believed “it was a personal matter.”
When victims do report sexual assault, the sad truth is, they aren’t always believed and previous research has found that many victims of workplace harassment who complain face retaliation.
Since the initial #MeToo tweet from actress Alyssa Milano, hundreds of Twitter users have shown support.
- Leave the “why” questions to the experts.
- Let them know they’re not alone.
- Let them know it’s not their fault.
- Tell them you know how much courage it took to tell you.
#IBelieveYou is also part of a Canadian joint effort against sexual violence between the country’s Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Service, the Government of Alberta and the Ministry of Human Services.